The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. We’ll take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Today at No. 60: Vanderbilt
Analysis compiled by Rachel George
Coach: James Franklin (6-7, 2nd season)
2011 record: 6-7 (2-6 in SEC, T-8th in SEC)
Look back: Vanderbilt made only its fifth bowl appearance after starting the season 3-0 and finishing with a 6-6 regular-season mark. Among those losses were four within a touchdown, including a three-point loss to Arkansas after Vanderbilt missed a field goal in the final seconds.
Offensive starters lost/returning: 2/9
Defensive starters lost/returning: 4/7
Key losses: Linebacker Chris Marve was the Commodores’ leading tackler last season, ranking 12th in the conference. Cornerback Casey Hayward led the conference in passes defended, as well.
Top returnees: Running back Zac Stacy ranked third in the conference in rushing and the Commodores return quarterback Jordan Rodgers.
Strengths: Vanderbilt returns seven starters from a defense that ranked fourth against the run and was second in the conference in interceptions. On offense, the Commodores’ run game is in good hands with Stacy and Rodgers.
Weaknesses: Vanderbilt ranked in the middle of the pack in most categories last year but was last in the SEC in field goal kicking. That remains a concern, along with filling holes at linebacker and developing depth on the offensive line.
Outlook: The Commodores suffered close losses to Georgia, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee in 2011. A year later, the Commodores return an experienced team that should be better from the struggles of last season. With some of their tougher games at home and a top-30 recruiting class coming in, the Commodores could see marked improvement in Franklin’s second season.
Aug. 30 vs. South Carolina
Sept. 8 at Northwestern
Sept. 15 vs. Presbyterian
Sept. 22 at Georgia
Oct. 6 at Missouri
Oct. 13 vs. Florida
Oct. 20 vs. Auburn
Oct. 27 vs. Massachusetts
Nov. 3 at Kentucky
Nov. 10 at Ole Miss
Nov. 17 vs. Tennessee
Nov. 24 at Wake Forest
Rest of the countdown: